War is fluid. Strategies and tactics evolve. We are winning in Iraq a war that could not be won, and now that we are winning, we hear nothing about it.
In Iraq, as military and security conditions continue to improve, American war politics enters one of its stranger moments in our history. Certainly it is historically odd for war reporting to diminish almost to the point of public invisibility -- just as our troops are starting to gain the upper hand. But we are fighting this war with the journalists we have, not the ones we want.
However, although the media maintained a virtual radio silence once things started going our way, the public has come to recognize the military success. Typical of recent polling is the Pew Research Center poll from Nov. 27, which shows that about half the country thinks the military effort is going very or fairly well (up from 30 percent). The public is also substantially more optimistic than it was in recent years that we are reducing civilian casualties, preventing civil war, defeating insurgents, preventing terrorist bases and rebuilding infrastructure. ...
In politics, it is usually the case that when your opponents stop talking about an issue, you must be winning with the public on it. Following that almost iron rule of political communication and in light of the fact that the anti-war Democrats have virtually stopped talking about the war, they must think it is no longer a winner for them. ...
Assuming we succeed in establishing a stable government in Iraq that is hostile to terrorists and respectful of the United States and the legitimate order of the world -- and while we aren't there yet, we now have good grounds to expect such an end -- I believe a strong case can be made for the value of not only finishing the war now but also, even based on what we now know, for having decided to fight it in the first place. ...
On the credit side, we eliminated a vicious anti-American regime and aborted any future plans they might have had for developing nuclear weapons. We intimidated Libya to give up its surprisingly advanced nuclear program. And if the recent National Intelligence Estimate is to be believed, Iran happened to give up its nuclear program just at the moment that a few hundred thousand American troops occupied Baghdad -- conveniently close to Iran.
These geopolitical facts are precisely evidence of the larger strategic purpose of the war. As I argued in August 2002, in a column in which I predicted that this war would unleash vast hostility against us, I endorsed Henry Kissinger's argument for the war that we had to demonstrate that a terrorist challenge to us produces catastrophic consequences for not only its perpetrators but also its tacit supporters. "We had to break the will and pride of all those in the Islamic world who would dare terrorize us and the international system."
Bin Laden said it best. His people will follow the strong horse. If, after ears of stumbling and bumbling, the enduring strength and eventual wisdom of the American people can enter into the belly of the Islamist world, overturn tyrants, empower the Muslim people with peaceable and prosperous ways and intimidate two Islamist nuclear aspirants to renounce their pretensions, we will show ourselves to be the strong horse. Thereby we will hasten the day when the terrorist pretensions will fall on deaf Muslim ears and the threat of Islamist terrorism will begin to recede.
We have it almost in our hands to gain the first strategic psychological victory in the "war on terror" -- and that will have been worth the suffering and the loss.
Where we cannot be loved, we must be feared. They will follow the strong horse.
There is a lot of good news that could be coming out of Iraq if anyone would report it. And the economic stability at home -- through 9/11, energy prices, war, a falling dollar, etc. -- has been just this side of miraculous. Who knew? America must lose for Democrats to win. What a despicable party platform.